Tour of the Hilltowns race report

Four years ago, I drove down to the Housatonic Hills road race by myself, a 3-hour trip into deepest, darkest central Connecticut. I did that brutally hilly race without teammates, got dropped early, and groveled to the finish. Then drove 3 hours back home, ruminating on my weaknesses and mistakes. I made myself a promise on the way back: if I ever got the itch to drive to a long, hilly road race, I for sure wasn’t going to go by myself. This weekend, I got to make good on that promise in Windsor, MA at the Tour of the Hilltowns. After inital arrangements fell through, I met up with my 50+ clubmates Brian and Anthony, loaded them up in the man-van, and made for Windsor.
I took the start and immediately felt like I was on the defensive, hanging onto the tail end of the field. We turned onto 8A and my eyes lingered on a rider from an earlier field, now laying motionless on the shoulder with two or three people attending to him. We managed to make it through the first stint on 8A safely, and 116 also passed without incident, but when we turned onto the second part of 8A and began the big descent, we had two crashes. The second came just as we hit the rough pavement about halfway down, and was fairly big – riders all over the road. I went from about 40 miles an hour to 12 in a couple of seconds, locked up my rear wheel, and then picked my way through the carnage. Of course, the front of the field never slowed down, so I had a good gap I had to make up…if I had the legs to do so. Which I didn’t. I kept them in view for a while, but never got back up.
After that, things get a little hazy. I was with a small group at the foot of East Hawley Road, but we didn’t stay together. I died a dozen times on that 4-mile climb, which naturally coincided with the sunniest 20 minutes of the race. I just kept grinding away, with dull legs and hoping for a double flat or cracked seatpost or some excuse to hang it up and figure out how I’d get back to the car. But, no such luck. Eventually the entire 50+ field came past me, and even the leading group of Cat 5s went by before I finally found the finish. At least I kept the green monster at bay.
Did I learn anything? Well, maybe tackling a 90K road race on limited sleep and reduced training volume the two weeks prior isn’t such a hot idea. Or, maybe my training volume isn’t up to 2+-hour races, or hey, maybe I’m just not good enough for anything longer than a local circuit race. And I knew hanging out in the back of a big field is asking for trouble…but I was in trouble from the start. My body was there, but my legs sure weren’t.
Is it cross season yet?